2015 was a record-setting year, with the Federal Register reaching 82,035 pages. This breaks the previous record by more than 600 pages, or roughly the length of Moby Dick. The number of new regulations, 3,408, is the lowest in decades. But that isn’t necessarily good news for fans of deregulation. An individual regulation can run for hundreds of pages, and often does. Each regulation typically contains numerous individual restrictions in those pages. As it turns out, fewer new regulations doesn’t necessarily mean less regulation—especially since agencies continue to mostly ignore their backlogs of old, obsolete, and redundant rules.
On to the data:
- Last week, 67 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 78 the previous week.
- That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 31 minutes.
- The federal government published 3,408 final regulations have been published in the 2015 Federal Register. This is the lowest total in decades.
- Last week, 1,401 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,402 pages the previous week.
- The 2015 Federal Register set an all-time record with 82,035 pages. The previous record was set in 2010, with 81,405 pages.
- Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. 35 such rules were published in 2015, one in the past week.
- The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $6.18 billion to $8.69 billion for the current year.
- 302 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have were published this year.
- In 2015, 548 new rules affect small businesses; 87 of them are classified as significant.
Highlights from selected final rules published last week:
- The federal government has a National Dairy Promotion and Research Program. A new regulation revises it.
- The federal government also sells cotton insurance for some reason. Revisions to that program are here.
- The Rural Housing Service has removed a sentence from the 175,000-page Code of Federal Regulations.
- Property confiscation policies are forthcoming for foreign cyber-criminals.
- Catch limits for swordfish in the North Atlantic.
- A new definition of “multiple-award contract” for certain federal contractors. Somewhere, Gordon Tullock is smiling.
- Preferential treatment for farmers who grow organic products. Since organic farming is more land-intensive than modern farming, leaving less land for wildlife, environmental activists should be upset by such special treatment.
- Energy efficiency test procedures for commercial prerinse spray valves.
- If you’re wondering whether or not you need to report your most recent railroad accident to the federal government, the damage threshold for required reporting has increased by one percent.